A new study from a team of EPIC members has uncovered the biological reasons underlying sex differences in COVID-19 outcomes and is offering a promising new strategy to prevent illness. Early on during the pandemic, clinicians quickly noticed that males were more likely than females to be hospitalized or admitted to the ICU or to die from COVID-19 despite having similar infection rates. This pattern held true across all age groups and in countries around the world. The research, conducted in mice and published in the journal iScience, points to the ACE2 protein as a key contributor to differences in COVID-19 outcomes between males and females.
New U of T study uncovers how the gut microbiome boosts immune development and shields against pathogens
A new study from University of Toronto researchers is shedding more light on how the community of microbes in our gut contribute to a well-functioning immune system and defend against harmful pathogens.
It seems appropriate that the Toronto offices for Kamran Khan’s BlueDot, which uses artificial intelligence to flag potential infectious disease outbreaks around the world, are located at the edge of Lake Ontario. Similar to a lighthouse, BlueDot signals when there’s danger ahead. BlueDot’s intelligence platform combines a computer’s ability to understand human language, known as natural language understanding (NLU), and machine learning, a form of AI that imitates humans’ ability to learn and gradually become more accurate. The platform sorts through massive volumes of online information— ranging from news reports, social media sites, government websites, and more — from around the globe, in over 130 languages, every 15 minutes of every day.
Today over sixty-five per cent of human infections are due to bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance, when bacteria can defeat the drugs designed to kill them, is a serious health problem and remains a top concern for many clinicians and researchers. That’s why Celine Levesque’s lab has been studying how bacteria are able to survive in different conditions. Recently, together with senior research associate Delphine Dufour, they found that bacteria can pass on antibiotic-resistant DNA to other cells in the mouth. Although Levesque’s research heavily focuses on Streptococcus mutans (the bacteria responsible for cavities), their recent findings have implications that go well beyond oral health.
A study from U of T Engineering researchers shows that mechanical deformation of medically implantable materials — such as bending or twisting — can have a big impact on the formation of potentially harmful biofilms. The study, described in a paper published in Scientific Reports, shows that even slight bending of elastomeric materials such as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), also known as silicone, opens up microscopic cracks that are perfect environments for colonizing bacteria.
Study identifies new SARS-CoV-2 variant in white-tailed deer and first evidence of deer-to-human transmission
A team of researchers led by EPIC member Samira Mubareka has characterized a new, highly divergent variant of SARS-CoV-2 in Ontario white-tailed deer. They also found the first evidence of deer-to-human transmission.
Less than three months since it launched, the monkeypox rapid research response led by the University of Toronto’s Emerging and Pandemic Infections Consortium (EPIC) and three partner hospitals is generating results that could help curb transmission of the virus. Modelling work describes how to optimize the initial rollout of a limited vaccine supply to prevent the most infections while other studies focus on the risk of environmental transmission.
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